Confession: At the time of this article I am absolutely smitten with Juan Cuadrado. He has managed to dribble his way right into my heart. But, enough with the man crushes and lame cliches that us Juventini deal with day in and day out with our boys in black and white.
The real task at hand is come June should Juventus attempt to make Cuadrado’s stay at Juventus permanent. Rumours of a pre-agreed €22 million fee have been discussed extensively since Cuadrado joined Max Allegri’s squad at Vinovo in late-August. Although, those rumours have not been confirmed by any parties involved in the potential transfer. It has been a hot topic issue with Juventus fans the past month or so, and Cuadrado’s recent electric performances against Genoa and Frosinone have left fans hoping that his time with the Old Lady does not end abruptly come summer.
If Beppe Marotta’s statements are true, then the likelihood of seeing JC16 (just throwing this nickname out there) are becoming increasingly more likely.
"He is on loan but for the squad and his tactical flexibility we really need him. He plays in a different way compared to all our other midfielders. Cuadrado could help us a lot and we are happy about his performances. We will try to hold on to him for the next campaign."
Let’s assess some of Cuadrado’s strengths and weaknesses and how he has fit in well with his teammates, according to whoscored.com. Cuadrado has played 26 games for Juventus this season (in all competitions) including 15 starting appearances scoring three goals and adding four assists. As an offensive-minded player, initial reactions to these stats would be worrisome. However, in Max Allegri’s 3-5-2 formation, Cuadrado is expected to do so much more than just attack. Under Allegri’s tutelage we have seen Cuadrado improve his defensive abilities tremendously. One particular instance that comes to mind is Cuadrado's excellent trackback to thwart a Genoa counter attack late in the game last Wednesday. You can see the tackle at 3:55 here:
Actually, while we're at it, just watch the whole video because Cuadrado was absolutely superb in this game. His knack for timely goals has proven key to Juventus' 14-game winning streak. I don't need to remind anyone of Cuadrado's famous derby goal against Torino, but the one that really sticks out to me is the one scored against Fiorentina in December. Down 1-0 after a third-minute Josip Ilicic penalty, Allegri's men equalized almost immediately after through Cuadrado's excellent looping header that fooled Tatarusanu.
Needless to say, Cuadrado has contributed as much as any in Juventus' climb back up the table.
His versatility and spontaneous behavior with the ball has been a godsend throughout this season. He offers much more offensively than Stephan Lichtsteiner when moving forward and, although he does not compare to the Swiss Express defensively, he has improved steadily under Allegri. Let's also remember that even though Lichtsteiner appears to have no intentions of slowing down, he is four years older than Cuadrado and signing the 27-year-old Colombian permanently could go a long way to finding Lichtsteiner's future replacement.
Another key feature in Cuadrado's game is his ability to draw fouls late in-game when Juve are trying to close it out. How many times did we see it against Genoa after Simone Zaza's expulsion — Cuadrado gets ball, Cuadrado gets fouled, Juve moves up the field. Rinse and repeat. This will come in handy as we delve farther into the season and gasp are maybe trying to preserve a lead in a Champions League Round of 16 match? Only time will tell if we see Cuadrado in black and white stripes next season, but if it were up to me, I believe he has done enough to earn himself an extended stay with the Old Lady.
PS. You never need a reason to go back and revisit a 93rd-minute derby goal. Back to you, Juan.